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3 posts from April 2011


Meet the newest members of the WPF team

At the White Picket Fence Counseling Center, we're pleased to welcome several new therapists to our team. Just as everyone is made up of parts, our team is made up of members with different specialties and treatment styles. Whatever food or weight issues you're dealing with, you're sure to find your match here. Now let's meet some of our new team members:
Janet McCurdy, M.Ed., M.S.
I am a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. I have both a Masters degree in Education and a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I have an extensive background working with children with a wide range of needs and abilities, including children with special needs and their families within an educational setting. My clinical experience includes working with adolescent clients and their families addressing issues such as sexual trauma and abuse, cutting, eating disorders, substance abuse, mood disorders and communication issues.
I am committed to creating a supportive environment that allows my clients to feel safe in exploring and working towards resolving current and past issues. I support both adolescent and adult clients in their efforts to increase self-knowledge, develop skills needed to repair, rebuild and strengthen relationships, heal emotional wounds, and work towards living more satisfying lives.
I am a member of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Specialists in Group Work, the Florida Counseling Association, the Florida Association for Marriage and Family Counseling and the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors.
Jennifer Patterson, B.S.N., R.N.
Jennifer is joining White Picket Fencing Counseling Center, LLC as a Graduate Student Intern from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Orlando, Florida, where she is currently enrolled in the Masters in Counseling Psychology Program. Jennifer’s undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and she graduated from the University of Oklahoma where she was selected the Outstanding Senior from the College of Nursing.
As a graduate nurse, Jennifer worked in the operating room as a member of the cardiovascular and thoracic surgical team. She assisted in many open heart surgical operations and supported patients and their families during the experience. Jennifer ultimately became a private nurse for two heart surgeons and also for a plastic surgeon.
Jennifer also assists individuals with Celiac Disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance, and Crohn’s disease. She provides assistance with grocery shopping, recipe conversion, menu planning, baking and cooking lessons, providing moral support in the process.
Jennifer believes in the medicine of the whole person – body, mind and spirit and is holistic in her approach to therapy. Her areas of interest are eating disorders, depression, personality disorders and addictions.
As an artist and poet, she enjoys painting flowers, landscapes, waterscapes, people, dogs and any other subject matter that inspires her.


Learn more about your parts

This month we're discussing the idea that we're all made up of many parts. Here are some resources if you'd like to explore this topic further:
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS) ( is a comprehensive approach for working with individuals, couples and families; it helps clients relate to their eating disorder as being a separate part of the self. There is a great list of available readings on the topic.
  • Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders ( is a residential treatment center, where all the therapists are trained in "parts" work, as developed by Internal Family Systems. Located in the St. Louis area, it is the professional home for Dr. Richard Schwartz, creator of IFS.
  • Jay Earley ( is a therapist and trainer in the IFS theory. He has a newsletter that you can subscribe to for updates about workshops, training events for professionals and information for consumers.


We Are All Parts That Make Up a Whole Self

We Are All Parts That Make Up a Whole Self
It's common to describe ourselves in parts, especially when they seem to be opposites, e.g., "Part of me wants to make friends, but another part of me really wants to hide out at home alone." And we are made up of parts – many of them.
Just look at the variety of unhealthy eating behaviors one person may exhibit – dieting, restricting, purging, and emotional eating. The same person can be the ultimate dieter one day, and can do nothing but binge the next day. It's all the same person, just living out her different parts.
A goal might be to increase your awareness of the parts, by writing in a food journal about what you're eating, as well as the emotions you're feeling before, during and after. That can help you get to know your parts and understand what might trigger them to come out of hiding.
You might discover that when you're feeling rebellious, you're more likely to restrict. Or maybe you'll see that if you're binging, you're usually lonely. Of course it's not always that simple or straightforward, but it's a start.
When you get to know your parts, you can strive to unite them all in order to have a much stronger sense of self.
Another way of looking at parts is to see that we're each also a part of bigger communities – whether that's a small family unit living under the same roof, a community of people who share a common interest or a support group that is dealing with the same eating disorder.
And anytime a group of people get together, there's the potential for conflict. Here, also, we see the different parts of ourselves. We've talked before about how challenging it is to be our "adult selves" sometimes – especially when we return to our childhood home or even just spend time with our family of origin.
But family aren't the only ones that can push our buttons. Other people with strong or difficult personalities will come and go in our lives. People at work, for example, can even start to take on roles from our childhood – you may start to relate to someone as if they were your sibling, instead of as two adults in a work environment.
For people already dealing with an eating disorder, the additional stress of relationship problems can be almost too much. And with particular toxic relationships, or in the case of violence, it's important to take care of yourself and get out of the relationship. Sometimes that's the healthiest choice.
But for the most part, I encourage my therapy clients to work on the relationships instead. It may seem easier to give up instead of dealing with someone head on, but in the end you're only limiting your own happiness, recovery and growth. 

Whether it's the parts of yourself or the parts of your communities, life provides many opportunities to practice bringing them all together in harmony. Are you up for the challenge?